“Only people who believe in god have the capacity for goodness.” | Guest Author

By Camille McGregor

Earlier today, I was riding in the car with my boyfriend to go and get something to eat. As he was driving, we passed by a car that had come to a full stop right in the middle of a lane. The driver had the hazard lights on. While my boyfriend had continued to drive past the car, I mentioned that I felt bad for the woman in the car because she appeared to be having car trouble. At this point, I was starving but my boyfriend decided to pull around and go back to offer the woman assistance.
We pulled up behind the woman’s car. My boyfriend exited the car and went over to the woman’s car. As I sat in the car, I  saw the exchange he had with her. After speaking to her for what seemed like a half an hour  (because I was so hungry) but in reality was only about ten minutes,  he pushed her car off of the busy road and onto the side of the street so that she could wait in a safer location for a tow truck. A few minutes later, the woman and my boyfriend walked back across the street to where I was seated in the car. I  opened the door to speak with her. Before I could introduce myself,  she belted out, “thank you guys so much for all of your help!” She thanked me for bringing it to my boyfriend’s attention that she seemed as if she may need some help and told me that she was insisting on giving my boyfriend some money for helping her, but he kept refusing to accept it. “So many people drove around me and kept driving. No one offered to help,” she said. She asked for my number and I told her to give me a call and let us know that everything worked out. My boyfriend helped her to cross the busy road,  she thanked him again and he returned to the car.

I am an atheist and so is my boyfriend. One may ask how we were able to bring ourselves to help another human being and be kind to her in her time of need when both of us are void of religion. My answer; religion is not synonymous with morality. One does not need religion to know right from wrong or to have the ability to empathize with others. There are way more believers in the world than non-believers. I am certain the majority of people that saw this woman in a bind and continued to move on without offering any assistance, were believers. However, it took two little non-believers to stop and offer assistance to their fellow human being. Why? Because at the core of who we are, we are good people. I was able to feel for that woman because I imagined how I would feel if I were in her position. My boyfriend decided to go back and help her because he could see that I felt for that woman and he himself is a helpful person at his core. These traits and feelings come from shared humanity, not shared religion.

Many of us as atheists have experienced people assuming or questioning our morality or moral standards because we are not believers. They can not understand and refuse to believe that you can have a good moral compass if you are devoid of religion. This assumption has never seized to not piss me off. I do not need religion to guide me, be my moral compass or to teach me how to be a good person. The universal understanding of humanity is to treat folks how you want to be treated and that is exactly what I do. That is common sense to human beings born with intrinsic moral compasses. As a child, I didn’t turnover another’s kid’s chair so that he or she would fall because I knew if someone did that to me I would be embarrassed. I knew this and understood this before setting foot in anyone’s church or being spoken to about any sort of religious belief. If you ask me, if you need a religious text or someone to tell you to be kind, not hurt others or treat others well in order for you to do so, you are the one with the problem.

I believe that most people are innately good. They do not need man-made entities or belief systems to make them be good. On the contrary, religion has had an overwhelming influence of presenting people with the opportunity to be bad. It has presented people with the opportunity to unfairly judge others, to treat others poorly, to separate themselves from others, to use scare and fear tactics to get people to submit and obey. All in the name of religion. So much bad has been washed away and swept under the rug because it occurred in the name of religion. At the end of the day, my own humanity and my ability to sympathize and empathize with the humanity of others makes me good. In fact, if we look at the history of religion and its present we will see that there are millions of people with religion that have been capable of tremendous bad. The presence of religion does not ensure goodness any more than the absence of religion ensures badness.

Black Atheists – The Other “One-percenters”/Guest Author

by Raven Burnes

“If I were to hazard a guess about the future of black religion, I could not imagine it without according a more prominent role to one percenters” (William David Hart, author of “One Percenters”: Black Atheists, Secular Humanists, and Naturalists, page 676).


I read the above quoted essay recently and really enjoyed it. It identified black atheists as approximately one percent of the black population. I’m not sure whether that’s accurate or not. Considering the fact that many atheists are in the closet, either partially or fully, the number could be understated. But, assuming for the moment that the number is accurate, what kind of impact can we expect to realistically have on our theistic brothers and sisters?


I think it is important to remember – and Hart makes this clear in his essay – that black secular humanists, freethinkers, naturalists, and atheists have had a powerful effect on the black liberation movement. Freethinker and Darwinist evolutionary supporter, Hubert Harrison, who was known as the “father of Harlem radicalism,” affected the thinking and writings of several black literary and philosophical leaders, including A. Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, Cyril Briggs, Richard B. Moore, Marcus Garvey, Countee Cullen, W.E.B. Du Bois, Nella Larsen, Walter White, Jessie Redmon Fauset, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X (Hart 676). These notables, in turn, have affected many subsequent black leaders.


The late William R. Jones, who wrote “Is God a White Racist,” and Anthony B. Pinn, who wrote Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist, are two more contemporary black freethinking thought leaders. These two men approach the subject of faith from slightly different angles, however: “As a secular humanist, Jones is less interested in debunking theism in the manner of ‘the New Atheists’ than defanging it, ” (Hart 680) while “debunking theism – that is, an epistemically driven desire to take down theism – motivates Pinn more powerfully than it does Jones” (Hart 682). Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values War, adds a much-needed feminist perspective to the contemporary black atheist discussion.


So, despite the apparently small numbers, African American secular humanists/atheists/freethinkers have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in the struggle for racial justice. This should give us hope, despite the persistent caricatures of atheists in general, and black atheists specifically. I believe we play a key role in providing an alternative to “New Atheist” groups, which many (rightly or wrongly) find to be narrowly fixated on science alone, staunchly white male in composition, and seemingly unconcerned with the issues that directly impact African  American communities.


Speaking of the atheist community in general, as Hart reminds us (688), being an atheist only means that one does not believe in a God or gods. It does not reveal one’s political persuasion, social awareness, level of sexist or racist beliefs, nor even the adoption of various other non-theistic superstitions. Therefore, as black atheists, we must actively choose to become visible participants in the fight for racial and social justice with or without (preferably with) the support of the larger atheist community. We dare not leave social justice and humanitarian activities solely to the church. As it stands, many African Americans do rely on the black church to provide the types of social services that are needed in our communities. Unfortunately, in addition to this beneficial role, the church continues to promote homophobic and sexist ideas. It also fosters dependence upon a non-existent deity who has not, cannot, and will not do anything for us outside of what we do for ourselves. The shift from “belief” to “action” is key, in my opinion, to uniting black theists and atheists in the common struggle.


The actions I propose are the same types of actions that any charitable organization would provide, but under the banner of humanism. The unfortunate stereotype which atheists of all colors are saddled with is that we have no morals. Ignoring for the moment the ridiculousness of this stereotype, in order to be heard, we must combat this false perception with the truth. A common saying among black people is that we must work twice as hard as any other group to get half the respect. Not only is this still true, but atheists have the additional burden of being a minority within a minority. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that the old adage “actions speak louder than words” is no less true today than it has ever been.


Let us pay at least as much attention to what we do as what we believe. If we do so, I believe our “one-percent” status will one day cease to be a hindrance, or even a reality.



Hart, William David. “One Percenters”: Black Atheists, Secular Humanists, And Naturalists.” South Atlantic Quarterly 112.4 (2013): 675-696. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Oct. 2015

The Ten Commandments of Atheism/Guest Author

by Raven Burnes

Last night I went to my very first Atheist gathering.  It was with Atheists United, San Fernando Valley Meetup in Los Angeles County. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was great. The discussion was intelligent and everyone there had an amazing sense of humor. Before the meeting ended, we voted on the topic for the next meeting. One of the ideas, which got rejected, was “what would the 10 commandments of atheism be?” Since the idea intrigues me, I’ve decided throw my hat in the ring and offer the following.

The Ten Commandments of Atheism

  • Thou shalt have no God, gods, nor woo-woo superstitious clap-trap before thee, as thou hast a brain.
  • Thou shalt accept nothing on faith, nor hope, nor desire alone.
  • Thou shalt think for thyself, relying not upon the inherited beliefs, nor the cultural superstitions, of thy kinsmen.
  • Thou shalt subject all manner of statement and belief to rigorous contemplation, testing all things with logic, evidence, and clarity of thought.
  • Thou shalt love, honor, and care for all human, animal, and plant life – and all that which dost support it – if thou dost desire peace, joy, and longevity in the land.
  • Thou shalt balance the desires of thy animal flesh with the longings of the elevated consciousness which thou hast acquired – for thou art an evolved and evolving being.
  • Thou shalt enjoy and honor every day as a day to sanctify it, as thy days are surely numbered.
  • Thou shalt respect the laws of the land in which thou dwelst, unless such laws do violence to the freedom, happiness, and honor of any living creature, and until such time as such offending laws be discarded through legal process.
  • Thou shalt speak not of a literal hell, nor inflict such primitive and shameless implements of fear upon thy fellow creatures – especially thine own young – lest thou be thought a fool, yes, even a manipulative twit.
  • Verily I say unto thee: thou shalt respect all manner of diversity among thee, as such behavior is the mark of intelligent beings.

So, those are mine. What would your “ten commandments” be?

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Dear Black People, Atheism is NOT a ‘White thing’ | Guest Author

By Camille Mcgregor

I grew up in a Caribbean household. Both of my parents are Jamaican and were born and raised there. I grew up having to attend church every Sunday. As far back as I can recall, I NEVER liked going to church. I had to wake up too early (and I’m not a morning person), I had to put on these gaudy outfits (my style is best described as simple), they did way too much yelling in church (I’m not a fan of being yelled at), I felt like I was always being closely watched and scrutinized even as a child and overall I just never enjoyed the way that being there made me feel.

At the age of eleven I decided that I was actually going to begin to listen to the things that the preacher and other adults in the church were saying rather than passing notes or playing tic tac toe to pass the time. The more I listened the more I realized that I didn’t agree with a lot of what was being said. I also realized that I detested the amount of pressure that was put on members of the church to “get saved” and how there was always a point in which all the “unsaved” people were asked to stand so that every single person in the church could know who they were. Other things such as; the way people in the church were so critical of everyone and everything, how the offering basket was passed around several times during the service and the actual length of the church service, were all things that turned me off.

I felt like I was being guilted or pressured into believing in this god they kept speaking about as opposed to believing on my accord. My mind was made up. I went home after church one Sunday and told my mother that I had absolutely no desire to go back to church and came to the conclusion that I did not believe in god. After yelling at me for about an hour or at least what seemed to be an hour, my mother proceeded to pick up the phone and call up family members and let them know that her 11-year-old daughter was the devil because she did not believe in god.

That summer I met an uncle of mine in Jamaica for the first time. He was a very kind man who was well-spoken and very intelligent. As he took my older sister, my  mother and I around the island he spoke about Jamaica and stated that the major problem in Jamaica was that a church could be found on almost every other block, but there were nowhere near enough schools. He openly talked about not believing in god or religion and as he spoke I was both shocked and comforted by his words. He was the first Caribbean and black adult I had been around that I heard make such statements. It felt great to finally be in the presence of someone who shared  the same position on religion as I did. Black atheists did exist!

Interesting enough, over the years the more I became grounded in my feelings about religion and god and openly stated how I felt, the more I would come across like-minded people. I have worked in a setting where I was surrounded by devout Muslims and Christians and funny enough both groups assumed that because I was black, I was Christian or at least had some type of religious affiliation or belief. When I told my Muslim co-workers where I stood they respected my position, didn’t treat me any differently and never imposed their beliefs on me. However my Jamaican co-worker who is one of those Christians that feel they need to lecture people on their religion everywhere they go, was more than shocked to discover that someone who looks like her and is from the same culture as her does not believe what she believes.

I have definitely met a good amount of white people along the way that are atheist and the ones that I have met tend to be atheist because they  did not grow up in households where religion was force fed to them like it had been for many of their black counterparts. We were pacified with Christianity and many of us ran with it and are still running with it. However, I have met and continue to meet black folks that have begun to question their religious beliefs and have begun to see religion for what it is and have decided that they are, in fact, atheists. I am more than happy to say that one of those black people is my own mother. The same lady that once called me “the devil.”

slavery in the bible

Slavery in the Bible | Scriptures Christians Either Love, Hate, or Ignore

Time for Bible Study, where you’ll do some actual studying. This is a non-cherry-picking post, so hold on to your undies because they’re about to ride up your crotch!
**This is for the people who proclaim that there isn’t any slavery in the bible no matter what Testament it’s in. I’m looking at you, black people.

Deuteronomy 21:10 – 14

When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

How exactly is that NOT slavery?

Colossians 3:22

laves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.

W-what is that? Yep, slavery.

Ephesians 6:5

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.  Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.

Exodus 21: 7 – 8

If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her.


Exodus 21:20-21

Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

Property, slave, punish all of these words can describe slavery in the bible in numerous ways!

Leviticus 25:44 – 46

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

You have got to love the classics! Leviticus never fails!

Luke 12:47-48

The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.  “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly.  Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.

1 Peter 2:18

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

I’ve already flown over the threshold: There’s more scriptures about slavery than there is about gays at this point. Hell, I met that point long before now.

1 Timothy 6:1

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.

Titus 2:9

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

I don’t know about you, but that looks like to me that there’s slavery in the bible. Tell me I’m “taking it out of context” all you want. There IS NO taking slavery out of context.

Black people, stop making excuses for this bullshit! You don’t need religioin! You know bullshit when you see it. Stop letting these idiots bullshit the bullshitters. I wish y’all knew better than a fucking newborn.

Here’s one for the trolls:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion… – (Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli 1797.  Unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate and signed by President John Adams)

i see no god up here

What is it like to be an atheist?

What is it like to be an atheist?

It’s trying. I was raised in a Christian home – Baptist. I was forced to go to church and was beaten if I didn’t. I was beaten if I questioned it, too. My son and I are treated like Satan’s offspring because of it. My atheism has kept my family from helping him when he I needed help. He needed medicine and they told me that if I wasn’t an atheist, I wouldn’t have problems getting his medicine. I fell on hard times and I just needed a little help. These same family members then kicked me and my son out of their home because of it. They still belittle me to this day. It doesn’t help that I’m black. Not a lot of black atheists these days – let alone a black woman atheist. So, here I am black, bisexual, a woman and an atheist. Life is cruel to me, but I try and take it in stride.

It’s hard. It’s hard because I have to watch family members – who are still religious – still grasp onto what they think is real; what’s true to them. It’s hard because their ancestors were slaves. They were beaten to death with religion. To see my family and black people, in general, hang a white man’s god up on their kitchen or dining room wall saddens me. They should know better than that, but they don’t. They keep themselves down because they’re waiting and expecting for their god to pick them up. I try not to knock their religion too much because that’s what they believe, but it’s so hard because of our background. I feel hopeless most of the time because, in the black community, religion is pretty much everyone’s security blanket. They need a bill paid? Pray to god. Do they need to get their car running? Pray to god. A doctor just cured their cancer? Praise Jesus! Their water ‘miraculously’ didn’t get cut off? Hallelujah! They put forth the effort and the work but “to god be the glory!” It’s frustrating to be an atheist sometimes. I want to educate people – black Christians especially. I think black atheists like me and other minority atheists have a harder time getting out of religion and coming out as secular, atheist, or agnostic because our culture has been drowned in the religion of our past oppressors who used religion to enslave, kill, and oppress us. The awareness of those facts is not in education nor brought to light so that blacks, and any other person of color really that had their original belief system replaced by European Christianity. We have a hard time coming out as an atheist because my family is so intertwined in their faith that anyone who doesn’t believe as they do gets disowned.

Being an outspoken atheist can be annoying at times. Having to explain yourself to people who are simple-minded to the concept of atheism is wasted energy, but it’s much needed. The silver lining is that there is sometimes that one person who isn’t simple-minded and they become an atheist because of me.

On the upside, I’m happy. I don’t have to answer to anyone on Sunday. My money stays in my pocket. I don’t have to worry about god finding my house keys for me. Another good thing is I get to ask the real questions in life now. I can improve things using critical thinking. It’s a form of intellectual evolution. I feel free. I’m not held down by some book that claims have all the answers and life’s rules that even Christians don’t follow.

There’s another side to being an atheist – especially a black one. But before I talk about that side, I’d like to just say that I know being an atheist is just a lack of belief – I get that, but you’d think that common sense don’t stop there. For a lot of people it does. The side I’m talking about is the racist side. The side where there are racist, bigoted atheists. That side of atheism is brutal and I’ve experienced it on a massive scale – especially on my page. There’s a lot of animosity in the atheist community already, but some of it comes from the lack of understanding of my page. I get called a separatist or a racist by other atheists because they think I’m segregating atheism. History will show there are a lot of reasons why that is; they prove that reasoning by being bigoted, by being racist. Why do I have to make articles explaining why Black Atheist pages are needed? Why does my life have to be threatened because they feel I’m secluding other races? Why do you feel you need to ask me would be okay to make a ‘White Atheists’ page? Why? It clearly says on my page that all atheists are welcomed, but they don’t investigate. They see the name and lose their minds. I had this issue with Cult of Dusty back in January about MLK and the racist comment he made, that was a huge mess and his “crew” came to my page with their big book of racial epithets and they thought they were doing Dusty a service. They told me to calm my tits and eat a watermelon. Racism on any level will be challenged. I won’t stand for it. I spoke up because it wasn’t right. It’s a long story, but that’s the gist of it.

The point to all that is that atheism has its good and bad. It has its up and downs. It also has a bunch of simple-minded, racist, bigoted, knuckle-dragging mouth breathers that simply don’t believe in god and that’s okay.


Being a black atheist, what are the most common reactions of people when they find out you’re an atheist? | A Question for the Black Atheists















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